What is the Statute of Limitations in a Products Liability Case?
The statute of limitations is the period in which an individual must file a lawsuit or they will lose their ability to pursue legal action for that specific event. An easy way to think of the statute of limitations is as a hard deadline. If the filing occurs before the deadline, then the lawsuit can go forward; however if the lawsuit is filed after the deadline, then the lawsuit is barred, and cannot go forward.
There are numerous reasons why statute of limitations exist. First, they require a plaintiff to pursue their claims with reasonable diligence. This deadline creates a responsibility and duty for the plaintiff, and their attorney, to research and analyze their claim and prepare it to be filed as a lawsuit. Second statute of limitations relate to a number of evidence issues. Preserving evidence and eyewitness testimony becomes more difficult as more time passes. Finally, they help keep the courts from being clogged up with “old” lawsuits.
California Statute of Limitations in Products Liability Cases
In a products liability case, which is a case where a defective product has caused an injury or property damage, the lawsuit must be filed within two years of the accrual date of the cause of action.
The accrual date is not the date when the product is manufactured or the date when the product is purchased. The accrual date is the date when the injury occurs.
For example, if you were in your car and the ignition switch suddenly shut off during driving, and you then got into an accident, you would have to file your lawsuit within two years of this accident.
In some cases a time period known as delayed discovery applies to this accrual date. This occurs when the plaintiff lacks enough knowledge to file a lawsuit. Thus in cases where the plaintiff lacks sufficient knowledge, the statute of limitations is two-years from the discovery, which is when the plaintiff has discovered or should have reasonably discovered the existence of a legal cause of action.
A classic example of delayed discovery in a products liability case, is when an individual contracts a cancer or another illness due to exposure to a toxic substance (ex: asbestos). Another example is when an individual gets sick after taking a pharmaceutical for many years. In these cases the accrual date would not be on the first date of exposure (to the toxic substance) or first date of taking the medicine. Rather, the accrual date would be based upon the discovery of the injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a product, then contact experienced San Diego personal injury attorneys at Martinez & Schill LLP. Our personal injury attorneys are experienced in determining causation in a particular accident and are experienced in establishing accrual dates. We don’t get paid until we recover compensation on your behalf, so call today for a free consultation. San Diego 619-512-5995 or Riverside 951-200-4630.